WEST LAFAYETTE – Purdue had to sweat it out, but opened the 2014 football season with a win.
Akeem Hunt’s 38-yard rushing touchdown with 3:42 to go was the break Purdue needed to help the Boilermakers to a 43-34 victory against Western Michigan.
The Hunt touchdown came just one play after Western Michigan’s Donald Celiscar laid on the field for more than two minutes after a hard hit on Raheem Mostert. As the Western Michigan sideline came as one onto the field, Purdue stole all of the momentum as Hunt’s run broke open what was a tenuous 37-34 Purdue lead.
Purdue’s defense then made a stand for really the first time all afternoon, holding Western on downs on its next possession and again with under a minute to go to rubber stamp the victory.
The 43 points are the most scored by the Boilers in the Darrell Hazell era, and Purdue needed them in a game that had Western Michigan play Purdue even up for most of the game.
Purdue held a 37-21 lead in the third quarter after Danny Etling found Gabe Holmes for an eight-yard touchdown pass. Etling had a solid day in his sophomore lid lifter, finding his way for a 19-38 passing day with 181 yards. Etling also ran the ball in from four-yards out.
Etling opened Purdue’s 2014 campaign with a nine-play, 80-yard drive capped with an 11-yard touchdown strike to Justin Sinz. The big tight end for the Boilers led the team with seven catches for 65 yards.
Raheem Mostert, converting to running back for his senior year after spending three years as a receiver, looked good in his debut in the backfield. Mostert rushed 22 times for 146 yards, finding the end zone from 11-yards out in the third quarter. Senior Akeem Hunt rushed for 78 yards and had the key score in the fourth quarter.
The Broncos stuck around, largely behind the running of Jarvion Franklin and the passing of Zach Terrell. Franklin scored three times and ran for 163 yards on just 19 carries. Franklin had scores of five, 26 and 61 yards while Terrell tossed for 205 yards on 18 completions, his second to Corey Davis for 14 yards, which put the score at 37-34 Purdue with 8:11 to go in the game.
The two teams combined for 863 yards, Purdue claiming 407 of those yards.
Purdue (1-0) will host a second MAC school next week when Central Michigan visits West Lafayette while Western Michigan (0-1) will travel to Idaho Sept. 13 for its next contest.